It can take a while for a musician to reach the pinnacle of their sound. This process can take a few albums, a couple EPs and even a single or two to accomplish.
Under the name Toadstool, West Warwick hip-hop artist Mike Jencks has been undergoing this undertaking over the past couple of years. After a ton of releases, he’s reached a conclusion with his new album “Earth 1” that came out on April 23. As with every talented artist, the prolific output never stops, but this does mark a new beginning.
We recently had a talk about the amount of music he’s put out since last fall, being influenced by his local contemporaries, a new single his band Toad & The Stooligans is releasing, and putting out a ton more material by the end of the year.
ROB DUGUAY: You’ve had a busy few months with you putting your “Have A Nice Day!” EP, Toad & The Stooligans’ new album “Jesus Juice” coming out, you and your bandmate Dan Pomfret releasing the Ronald Raygun record, and now you have “Earth 1” out. What do you think has inspired this prolific output? Is it simply more free time because of the pandemic or is it something else?
MIKE JENCKS: Even before the pandemic, I definitely stayed home a lot more than I went out. See, it’s really not that short of a time because this is the culmination of 2½ years worth of work kind of all bubbling up at the same time, I guess. I’ve been sitting on a lot of material and I decided that it’s better to strike than to just sit and dwell on music that I’ve made. I’ve fleshed out a plan, along with the band and Dan, to keep the train rolling essentially. It’s all about the momentum.
RD: What do you view as the place of “Earth 1” in the Toadstool discography? Do you see this album as starting a new chapter for you as an artist or do you see it as a culmination of everything you’ve been up to musically over the past couple of years?
MJ: I think it’s definitely moreso a culmination. I feel like a lot of this album is the last batch of stuff that I made before I truly understood what I wanted to go for. I don’t think I’d really fully found that confidence that I was kind of looking for and “Earth 1” is definitely a culmination of some of my older nerves, some of my older feelings toward things and some of my older perspectives. I’d like to think that I’ve grown an insane amount since making that album, but there’s definitely a bookmark at the end.
RD: Who do you view as your main influences for your music these days? Do you always find yourself taking bits and pieces from certain eras of hip-hop, do you always try to have a pulse of what’s coming out, or is it a little bit of both?
MJ: It’s definitely a little bit of both. I like to keep my pulse on what’s happening around me, I don’t necessarily listen to a lot of newer music when it comes to trap and the very boastful stuff. I like my lyrical content and I like my old school boom-bap beats. When it comes to inspiration, a lot of the local rappers around Rhode Island really inspire me. Just working with Dan all the time is insanely inspiring because that kid is a music machine, it’s insane to watch him work.
Jesse The Tree is probably my favorite rapper going right now. Joe Bruce is incredibly talented and very good at bringing people up with him, which I think is very important. Instead of stepping over people you should be bringing up the people you’re working with. Chachi Carvalho has always been an inspiration, Toad & The Stooligans played our first show with him. Chachi is a homie, he comes into my work sometimes and I give him pizza. Symmetry from back in the day too, it would be hard not to shout him out. He was very instrumental in forming Dan and I’s friendship.
RD: Toad & The Stooligans recently put out a teaser video on Facebook that says “Here Comes The Circus.” Can you provide any more info on this? What are you allowed to say about this teaser video?
MJ: No one’s going to fire me so I’m pretty sure I can say whatever I want, but in the interest of mystery, it is a single but we are currently tracking and knee deep into trying to figure out another album. We are working on that right now, but yeah, we got a single coming out. It’s probably one of my favorite songs that we’ve done, I think.
RD: I’m looking forward to it.
MJ: I’m really excited for it, too.
RD: What can we expect from you as Toadstool over the summer? Will there be another Toadstool record out later in the year when you have some time? You mentioned how “Earth 1” is kind of like the culmination of a lot of songs you’ve been sitting on, so is the next one going to be all fresh, new stuff?
MJ: I have a ton of stuff in the works right now. I’ve been making music consistently all year, I haven’t stopped. I have an album called “D-Generation Flex” coming out, I haven’t figured out how I’m going to drop all of this stuff yet but it’ll all be out this year. I can guarantee that. “D-Generation Flex” is kind of like the sequel to “Have A Nice Day!” because it has a bunch of wrestling references, that EP was a little bit of a taste and this is like a full course meal.
I’m working on an EP with Jesse The Tree, which is insane, we’re doing some really cool stuff on it. I’m also working with a producer named Tetcon on a little EP, I’m working on this Stooligans record, I have this album called “Bloodsucker” that I finished and I’m working on promo stuff for that. I have a lot of stuff in the works right now and I’m taking my time releasing everything little by little while also still making music to keep in the vault. I’m keeping the assembly line moving, so to speak.